April 29, 2010

A View from the Front of the Stage

For two weeks in a row, a pair of Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra musicians who are leaders of their instrumental sections will be featured out front in rare solo opportunities. Principal Trumpet Douglas Prosser and Principal Viola Melissa Matson stopped by to chat about what it's like to wear a solo "hat," and more...

"The first difference is how I approach the playing," said Melissa, who will be performing Berlioz's Harold in Italy on May 6 and 8. A soloist versus a section player "requires a different kind of energy." As a leader of the viola section (the job of a section principal), her voice is representative of the whole section and texture. "In a solo spot, I'm out in front of the orchestra and need to make the sound really project." Although Harold in Italy is a well-known work for viola solo and orchestra, this will be her first performance of the piece. She's looking forward to "enjoying the roller coaster ride" of the solo experience!

Douglas Prosser—featured in Tomasi's Trumpet Concerto on April 29 and May 1—talked about the differences in the level of intimacy with the audience and also the trumpet sonority standing out front. "When you're cueing the section, you're ‘inside' the ensemble," he said. "A soloist has the opportunity to step out and get into his own personal interpretation and sound of the piece." He described Tomasi's Concerto as being a "playful and spontaneous conversation" between the soloist and the various orchestral sections. And audiences can expect the first movement to sound quite improvisatory, as the sections "play off of each other."

Harold in Italy also has an interesting "interplay" concept: a "duet" between viola and harp. Guest conductor Andreas Delfs and Melissa already have been in contact about some possible "staging" ideas.

RPO patrons who know Melissa also are aware of her "other" talents in textiles. In fact, she's shared with us that she's making two dresses for the pair of concerts. If they both come out well, she's planning on wearing a different one each night. Stay tuned!

No comments: